Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Summer life in Leuven, Belgium

Before I came to Leuven, I only knew a very old and famous school, KU Leuven and IMEC, where I am working for the summer. What was my first thought about Leuven? Some might say it is a historic city; some might say it is just a college town; and some might say it has the largest brewer group on the world. In fact, all of these statements are correct. I didn’t realize how beautiful the city was until I arrived.

Interuniversity Microelectronic Centre (IMEC), is located in Heverlee, which is the neighborhood of Leuven. It takes about 10 minutes to bike from IMEC to the city center of Leuven. So, you know you are not going to work at a place that is in the middle of nowhere.

My work at IMEC is trying to do single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) detection with digital droplet PCR. With advanced microfluidic techniques, hundreds of droplets can be generated within a minute. And each of the droplets can play as a single reactor. By doing droplet PCR, you can simply improve the conventional PCR and use it as a potential diagnostic tool.

Besides work, there are a bunch of activities you can do here. If you are academic, KU Leuven is probably the place you cannot miss. It is the largest and oldest Catholic university in Belgium.

If you like music, you would definitely like to go to the event called “Beleuvenissen” in July. There are many different bands from different regions performing their style of music from Friday to Sunday throughout the month of July.

If you enjoy historical architecture, the town hall and Grand Beguinage are the most popular sites in Leuven. They are both several hundred of years old and are still preserved very well. Grand Beguinage is one of the World Heritage Sites.

Working here this summer is a very special experience in my life.

Blog post by Wei-Chiang Chen, a doctoral student in the chemical and biomolecular engineering laboratory of Denis Wirtz.

Here are a few photos taken so far. All photos by Wei-Chiang Chen:

Beleuvenissen music fest

Castle Arengerg, KU Leuven

Library at KU Leuven

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